Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
By James Whittington, Saturday 20th February 2021
Gary J. Tunnicliffe doing SFX make-up on the set of Hellraiser Judgement

Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.

HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?

GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when someone showed me a copy of Fangoria magazine, it was THAT, that influenced me to become a make-up effects artists when I saw pictures of people actually creating monsters and effects and realized it was a legitimate profession.

HC: You've been long established as one of the leading people in special effects make-up, can you recall the first time you walked onto a set?

GJT: It was probably for a commercial at Pinewood studios, I was working for Bob Keen at Image Animation and I think I was literally just bringing some pieces in for the other 'on set' people, I just remember it being dark, an Aladdin's cave and there was this mass of people all seemingly busy with tasks and I couldn't fathom how all these people were involved or what they were doing.

HC: When did you start getting the feel for wanting to be a director?

GJT: To be honest I didn't have the 'feel' for wanting to be a director until someone asked me 'Would you be interested in directing' and foolishly, arrogantly and without much knowledge of the entire process I said yes, to be honest that first film really was my film school and I owe a debt of gratitude to my first DP (Adam Kane) AD (James Deck) and Script Supervisor (Jennifer Gettzinger) (as well as the rest of the crew except ONE of the producers) for supporting me and getting me through the technical stuff I was 'green' about.

HC: You've been around the Hellraiser franchise for quite some time, were you a big fan before you worked on it?

GJT: I was huge fan of Hellraiser, I sat in a movie theatre in Cannock, England in 1987 watched the movie mesmerized and when I saw Pinhead I said to myself - that's awesome, who did that, how did they do that and I WANT to do that!

HC: Let's talk about Hellraiser: Judgement, how did you come to be writing the script and directing this?

GJT: I was originally offered to write and direct Hellraiser Revelations, which (due to a conflict working on Scream 4) I could not do, I wrote the initial script for Revelations which was then altered and Directed by Victor Garcia. When another Hellraiser move came to be made they graciously once again asked me if I'd be interested in writing and directing and of course I said yes.

HC: It's a very gritty, violent and bloody film, with shades of "Se7en" mixed into its fantastical storyline, was this a deliberate choice to take it away from what we'd expect it to be like?

GJT: I don't REALLY know what people would 'expect' it to be like, the films have been a mixed bag of influences and tones over the years, some good, some bad and let's face it some awful. I had to write a film to a budget ($350k) so my options were fairly limited, I wrote what I thought I could do well with limited time and money but at the same time I didn't see the point in just 'retreading' what had been done before especially with less money. Dimension didn't want a twisted love story exploring the sexuality of Hellraiser (unfortunately) so I went with a cop story and a serial killer (since you can't spend 90 minutes with the Cenobites - no matter how much people may think they want that) and I decided to bring in a new faction with a an 'intimate' process that would be disturbing but cost effective and if you're doing a serial killer movie crossed with Hellraiser, Se7en seems the obvious influence!

HC: Was it all shot on location as the street shots add so much atmosphere to the piece?

GJT: YES! all shot in and around Oklahoma City with fantastic cooperation of all there for our micro budget endeavour, chilly February temperatures and a giant smoke machine helped provide the atmosphere (laughs).

HC: The Auditor is such a great character, do you think he should have his own series, and would you continue to play him?

GJT: He should have his own series, his own reality show, his own line of men's cologne and he'd make a great breakfast time host and celebrity chef and me and only me should ever play him (laughs).

HC: There are some incredible effects, do you have a favourite moment?

GJT: Actually I don't really think there are any particularly stunning effects in the film, its stuff that I've done before and in some cases more elaborately and better, there are effects I would like to have spent more on (money and time) like the skinning of Watkins - but everything in the film is done well and Pinhead and the Cenobites etc all look great and that's kudos to a great team on set - I do think that considering the elements ( a stuffed toy and a bit of a silicon stomach section, intercut with a real stomach with a prosthetic and a puppy with some water on it) the 'dog from the stomach' gag works surprisingly well - a testimony to good editing!

HC: How hard is it to design new Cenobites?

GJT: New Cenobites are GREAT fun to design and ideas come from the strangest of places, the influence for the Angelique Cenobite in part 4 came from watching Sister Act! - the trick is to design something that is both grotesque and beautiful, violent but with order.

HC: Would you like to continue the franchise?

GJT: I would love to, I have been involved (professionally) with these films since 1993 and as a fan long before, but alas I think my tenure is over, I don't think I'll be invited to the party any more, but I am thrilled I got to do Judgment and put my own personal stamp on the franchise.

HC: You're a man of many talents, do you have a favourite skill or job?

GJT: That's very kind of you, well certainly NOT make up, I gotta say I really don't mind if I never apply a make-up ever again, did you ever do something SO much until you hate it?...yep, that's prosthetic make up and me. I genuinely enjoy directing, especially seeing something dark, bizarre and strange that you wrote or imagined bought to life in front of you. Acting terrifies me, but I enjoy the process and then hate seeing the results.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

GJT: I'm signed on the direct COULROPHOBIA (fear of clowns) which I also co-wrote which is an intense horror film experience with the antagonists in the form of four clowns (great fun designing these) hopefully shooting later this year - I'm also working on several other writing projects BUT I am also still possibly doing effects for some old friends as well (I don't mind picking up a brush and doing effects for the right people) and in my spare time I do personal art projects, rock hound and tumble, train and fight and drink Guinness.

HC: Gary J. Tunnicliffe, thank you very much.

Hellraiser: Judgment and Hellraiser: Revelations are on Digital 22 February and Blu-ray/DVD 1 March.

Interview with Michael Mayer and Guy Ayal from the acclaimed movie Happy Times
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
thumbnail_HT_set_Marie Alyse Rodriguez

Happy Times, which is showing at Grimmfest Online, is a movie that takes the home invasion genre and turns it inside out! Directed by Michael Mayer and co-written with composer Guy Ayal, the movie is a bombastic, bloody and hilarious piece of cinema. I chatted to them both about this dinner party from hell.

HC: Where did the idea for Happy Times come from?

MM: The idea for the movie started forming when I was invited to a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year's) dinner in Los Angeles. It was the first year of Trump's presidency and wherever you went all people wanted to talk about was politics. One thing to know about the Israeli expat com...

Interview with D.M. Cunningham, writer and director of The Spore
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
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If you like your horror with a huge lashing of gruesome effects and a strong story then The Spore is for. Showing at Grimmfest Online, the movie from D.M. Cunningham is a smart take on the body horror genre. Here he chats about this movie which is guaranteed to get under your skin.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a director?

DM: I started out wanting to be a makeup effects artist. After seeing Night of the Living Dead and discovering Fangoria magazine I was hooked. Tom Savini was a huge influence on my trajectory toward becoming a filmmaker. It wasn't until later that I discovered that you could boss the monsters around on set being the director. That's...

Interview with Ben Charles Edwards, co-writer and director of Father of Flies
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
Father of Flies director

A vulnerable young boy finds his mother pushed out of the family home by a strange new woman in Father of Flies, and he must confront the terrifying supernatural forces that seem to move in with her. This intense and chilling movie is showing at Grimmfest Online Edition so we chatted to director and co-writer Ben Charles Edwards about this movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Father of Flies come from?

BE: It came from my childhood experiences. When my good friend and journalist Dominic Wells was talking to me about my next project, he told me to draw on real life experiences. So, I did. My own experiences were neither as heightened nor as traumatic as they may...

Interview with Marcel Sarmiento co-writer and director of Faceless
Posted on Friday 15th October 2021
Faceless Director

Showing at Grimmfest Online Edition is the incredibly inventive horror/sci-fi hybrid Faceless. Here, co-writer and director Marcel Sarmiento speaks about this superb movie.

HC: Have you always been a big horror movie fan?

MS: Definitely as a kid. My first movies made with my Betamax were all about scaring one other and how gross we could push makeup effects. We mostly strangled, stabbed, and threw each other off buildings. I think as I got older, I appreciated what you could do with horror more than horror for horror's sake. I love that you can make characters do things that in any other genre you couldn't make them do and still come out the other end liking them and routi...

Tom Paton, director of G-LOC chats about his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman
Posted on Tuesday 14th September 2021
Tom Paton on the set of G-Loc-3-1

Ahead of the Horror Channel premiere of his sci-fi action thriller G-LOC, director Tom Paton reflects on why making movies is like solving a puzzle, his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman.

Horror Channel will be broadcasting the UK TV premiere of your Sci-fi adventure G-LOC. Excited or what?

It's honesty so strange to me every time Horror Channel debuts one of my movies. The channel has been such a big part of my life growing up and informing my taste in films, that it's always a "pinch myself moment" when I see something that I've made appear on their TV listing. G-LOC is much more of a SCI-FI adventure than any ...

Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Alexis Kendra-4

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of The Cleaning Lady on June 26, the film's star, writer and producer Alexis Kendra talks about playing a 'Goddess', coping with lockdown and why she can't watch horror films on her own.

HC: The Cleaning Lady is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

AK: I love you guys. Always have, always will. I'm honoured.

HC: It's a very disturbing film, dealing with abuse, addiction and hidden rage, yet the characters are sympathetic and have real depth. It's horror with a twisted heart. As a co-writer, alongside your director Jon Knautz, what were the main challenges in getting the balance right between acting and writing? <...

Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
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Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Rabid on June 12, Jen and Sylvia Soska reflect on the challenges of re-imagining Cronenberg's body horror classic, meeting the great man and their new monster movie, Bob.

HC: Rabid is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

SS: The Horror Channel has supported us and our work since the beginning, so it's a special treat to have the newest film premiere there!

Js: We are so excited. Having Rabid on Horror Channel feels like coming home. They've been very kind to us. We are happy to have so many of our films on there.

HC: We all, of course, remember that Rabid was one of David Cronenberg's earli...

Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Mickey Fisher 1

Horror Channel will be continuing its commitment to bringing cult and classic sci-fi to its audience with Seasons 1 and 2 of the CBS Studios/Amblin Television production of Extant, starring Halle Berry as astronaut Molly Woods, who returns home to her family, inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.

The series begins on Horror May 11th so, we decided to chat to its creator, Mickey Fisher about how the series came to be produced and what it was like working with Hollywood royalty.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a writer?

MF: From the time I was maybe five or six years old I wanted to be an actor. Going to see Star...

Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Director Chee Keong Cheung

Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?

CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...

Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020

On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.

HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?

SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...

Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Concrete Plans poster

Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.

Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!

HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?

SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...

Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020

A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.

HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?

SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...

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Tuesday 26th October
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Saturday 23rd October
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Friday 29th October
9.00 PM